India's exports declined to $10.743 billion (Rs53,779 crore) in April 2009, registering a 33.2 per cent fall in dollar terms and a 16.4 per cent in rupee terms against $16.076 billion (Rs64,340 crore) during April 2008, official data released today showed.
India's exports plummeted for the seventh month in a row and into fiscal 2009-10 as recession in major economies like the US and Europe continued to curb demand.
Imports, at $15.747 billion (Rs78,832 crore) during April 2009, were down 36.6 per cent in dollar terms and 20.6 per cent in rupee terms over the level of imports valued at $24.823 billion (Rs99,347 crore) in April 2008.
Oil imports during April 2009 were valued at $3.634 billion, which was 58.5 per cent lower than oil imports valued at $8.749 billion in the corresponding period last year.
Non-oil imports during April 2009 were estimated at $12.113 billion, which was 24.6 per cent lower than non-oil imports of $16.074 billion in April 2008.
Trade deficit for April 2009 was estimated at $5.004 billion, which was lower than the deficit of $8.747 billion during April 2008.
India's aggregate exports in fiscal 2008-09 were down at $168.70 billion against an earlier projection of $200 billion.
Meanwhile, the new union minister of commerce and industry Anand Sharma had, on assuming charge on 29 May, said the government will review its trade policy in the light of the present foreign trade and industrial scenario, including issues relating to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Sharma said free-trade agreements that have been finalised with ASEAN, South Korea and Nepal, would be taken up by the cabinet soon for its approval. The ongoing bilateral and multilateral talks with the European Union, Japan, SACU (South African Customs Union) and IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), will also be expedited.
During his interactions with the media persons, the minister said the foreign trade policy will be announced during August 2009.
Minister of state for commerce and industry Jyotiraditya Scindia also hinted at steps to boost exports from the country. ''Our target is to make sure that at least we have flat growth in exports,'' Scindia said soon after taking charge on Monday.
There are a number of key issues such as revival of the manufacturing and exports sectors that need to be focused upon, he said.
Hit by demand slowdown in the major markets of the US and Europe, India's exports grew by a meagre 3.4 per cent to $168.7 billion in the whole of 2008-09 over $163 billion in a year ago period.
Scindia said the government was toying with a number of ideas to be implemented through the new Foreign Trade Policy, to be unveiled in August.
He further said drafts of several free trade agreements, including those with ASEAN and South Korea, would be taken up for cabinet for approval.
India's exports which showed an impressive growth rate of over 30 per cent in the first six months of fiscal 2008-09, started declining since October 2008.
The government, meanwhile, is expected to give emphasis to the development of labour-intensive export sectors like handlooms and textiles to ensure sustainable employment generation.